Background Check Before Offer? What It Really Means (And How To Pass)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 23, 2024

Computer screen on the right showing a pending background check before offer of a job held by a man in a brown suit in the middle is being presented to a man on the left wearing a blue tie and white shirt.

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When applying for a new job, it can be a little bit confusing to have a background check before offer run. Many individuals may be confused about where they stand in regard to getting a job offer when they are asked to complete a background check.

Although it varies from company to company, in general, what it really means is that the company sees the applicant as a potential hire and wants to do some checks to ensure they meet the basic requirements.

Fortunately, there’s something that anyone can do to make sure they pass.

Learn how to get a background check on yourself before applying, that way you can know if any disqualifying offenses will cause you to have a failed background check before or after the job is offered.

Once you know what shows up on a background check, you can take steps to undergo a background check and remove criminal records.

As long as the applicant is well-prepared and knows a few tips on how to pass a background check, everything should be heading in the right direction.

How To Pass a Background Check Before a Job Offer

To run a background check on yourself, contract with an agency that offers a free trial membership. Users can run the report to see what a potential employer will see, then move forward with the steps required to clear any inaccurate or disqualifying information.

For example, some background checks will provide social media and other public records. If any of these are iffy, they can be fixed.

Do Companies Do Background Checks Before Offers?

Every company operates a little bit differently when it comes to hiring practices and especially when it comes to whether or not they give background checks before offering. However, for almost all companies, getting a background check is usually a good thing. Similar to getting an interview or even a second interview, a company requesting a background check generally means that the hiring manager is at least willing to put in the extra time and money to explore a candidate further. If there was no interest in hiring an applicant for any number of reasons it simply doesn’t make sense to go through the effort and spend the money to perform a background check.

When the background check takes place will depend on the company and the kind of job. For many industries that have more intensive background checks and more disqualifiers for their background checks, it is common for a background check to be somewhat early on in the hiring process. This is because the company won’t want to waste time going through several interviews and other hiring processes, only to find out that there is a disqualifier on their criminal background check.

However, the majority of industries will conduct their background checks very late in the process. For the vast majority of entry-level jobs like Walmart, Amazon, and Home Depot, the hiring process usually involves one interview that is relatively short. This means that the background check is usually the most expensive part of the process and thus only conducted on employees that the hiring manager is very interested in.

In this case, the background check will often be the last part of the process and a formal offer will be made as soon as the individual passes the background check. Another common occurrence with these kinds of jobs is for a verbal offer to be made, which is conditional on the background check being passed.

With all that being said almost no company will make a formal offer before the background check is completed. At the most, they will explain that the company is interested in the applicant but that a background check must be completed first before the official hire can take place.

Background Check After Offer Letter: What Does It Mean?

A company requesting a background after sending an applicant an offer letter is a fairly common occurrence. However, in almost all cases of an offer letter arriving before a background check has been conducted, the offer will be conditional on the results of the background check. Many companies will do this as a courtesy so that applicants that are confident about passing the background check can make arrangements to start a new job, such as submitting notice for a current job, making travel arrangements, etc.

As mentioned above, background checks cost businesses money to conduct so a company requesting a background check is almost always a good thing and means they are interested in moving forward with the hiring process.

Even if an offer was received before a background check was conducted, many individuals will still be nervous about the background check and may be wondering how to pass a background check. Although there is no sure-fire way to pass there are a few basic steps that individuals can take to increase their chances.

The first and most basic thing that an individual can do is, to be honest on their application, few things will disqualify an applicant quicker than finding out that they lied about something on their application. Assuming that the applicant completed the application to the best of their knowledge there is one more crucial step they should take: Perform a background check on themselves.

Most background checks are very similar, especially criminal history checks. These days it is extremely easy to perform a background check on yourself that will be almost identical to the one that the company will be performing as part of the official background check. This will allow individuals to do two things: Find mistakes and prepare for further questions.

Correcting Mistakes on a Background Check

When running a background check on yourself, many individuals may find incorrect information. Anything from a case of mistaken identity, a felon with the same name, or records that were supposed to be sealed still be public are all possibilities. Knowing about this beforehand can be a huge help and allow the individual to get a head start on fixing their background check.

The exact process will vary based on the nature of the mistake, but in many cases should be fairly simple to correct.

Preparing for Further Questions About Criminal History

Many individuals may be nervous about a background check due to the fact that they have a criminal history. More companies than ever are making an effort to help individuals with criminal histories get back on their feet, so even with a felony conviction on your record, not all hope is lost. Companies that hire felons are usually looking for individuals who are actively working to improve themselves and move forward from past criminal activity.

Knowing exactly what criminal history information the hiring manager will see will allow individuals to prepare a response that demonstrates the nature of the conviction and how they are working to better themselves. A little preparation for questions about your criminal history will go a long way in proving to the hiring manager that your criminal history is a thing of the past.

How Long After Background Check for Offer? (Typical Time Frames)

Although many companies will request a background check before offer, many companies will prefer to conduct a background check before making any kind of formal or informal offer. A company conducting a background check generally means they are interested in the applicant and will likely want them to start right away. With that being said, the typical time frame for receiving an offer after a background check will depend on the background check.

Most companies will want to speed up the hiring process as much as possible and will make a formal offer, or move to the next stage of the hiring process, as soon as the background check has been passed.

There are a number of factors that will affect this such as holidays or the availability of the hiring manager, but a typical background check will be completed in 3-5 days so applicants should expect to hear back in a week or less.

Background Check Before Offer: State Laws About Background Check Before Offer of Employment

More and more states are adopting additional laws surrounding background checks in addition to those mandated at the federal level by the FCRA. Since background check laws are changing constantly it is extremely important to be aware of the laws that are unique to your jurisdiction. Keep in mind that even if there are little to no additional background check-related laws at the state level, many cities or counties may have adopted their own background check laws as well.

StateLaws About Background Check Before Offer
AlabamaAlabama Law Enforcement Agency1
AlaskaAlaska Department of Public Safety2
ArizonaArizona Governor Executive Order3
ArkansasArkansas Department of Finance and Administration4
CaliforniaCalifornia Legislative Information – Title 25
ColoradoColorado General Assembly House Bill 12-12636
ConnecticutCriminal History Background Check Connecticut7
DelawareDelaware Code Title 168
FloridaFlorida Statutes9
GeorgiaGeorgia Bureau of Investigation10
HawaiiHawaii Office of Information Practices11
IdahoIdaho State & Federal Resources for Business12
IllinoisIllinois Department of Human Services13
IowaIowa Department of Public Safety14
IndianaIndiana Department of Insurance15
KansasKansas State Legislature16
KentuckyKentucky State Legislature17
LouisianaLouisiana State Legislature18
MaineMaine State Legislature19
MassachusettsMassachusetts Guide to Criminal Records20
MarylandBaltimore County Government
MichiganMichigan Pre-employment Inquiry Guide21
MinnesotaMinnesota Senate Bill 52322
MississippiMississippi Criminal History Record Checks23
MissouriMissouri Revised Statutes24
MontanaMontana Department of Justice25
NebraskaNebraska State Legislature26
NevadaNevada Department of Health and Human Services27
New HampshireNew Hampshire State Police28
New JerseyNew Jersey Criminal History Records Information29
New MexicoNew Mexico Department of Public Safety30
New YorkNew York Fair Chance Act31
North CarolinaNorth Carolina Judicial Branch32
North DakotaNorth Dakota Attorney General33
OhioOhio Administrative Code
OklahomaOklahoma State Bureau of Investigation34
OregonOregon State Legislature35
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania State Police36
Rhode IslandRhode Island Attorney Generals Office37
South CarolinaSouth Carolina General Assembly38
South DakotaSouth Dakota Legislature39
TennesseeTennessee Bureau of Investigation40
TexasTexas Workforce Commission41
UtahUtah State Legislature
VermontVermont State Legislature42
VirginiaVirginia State Legislature43
WashingtonWashington State Legislature44
West VirginiaWest Virginia Department of Health and Human Services45
WisconsinWisconsin Department of Justice
WyomingWyoming State Legislature46

What Will a Background Check Before a Job Offer Show?

Receiving a background check before an offer can be a nerve-wracking event. This can be made worse for individuals that have a criminal history, or if the background check seems to be taking longer than normal.

Knowing what to expect and most importantly what kind of information will show up on a background check can be a huge help. As mentioned earlier, something that everyone who is nervous about a background check should do is to perform a background check on yourself. This can be done using the DIY method, usually through county court clerk records or police background checks, or by going through a reputable background check agency that can perform a variety of checks for you.

Besides knowing what will show up it can be useful to know the common disqualifying offenses for your specific industry. For many industries, the disqualifying offenses will be legal requirements. For example, the list of disqualifying offenses for childcare employees is dictated by federal law and state laws, so no expectations can be made. However, many industries such as service industries or corporate positions, will not have legal requirements. Instead, these industries will have widely accepted disqualifying offenses, however, in some cases, they may be willing to make exceptions.

IndustryCommon Disqualifying Offenses
Service (Food, Retail, Sanitation, etc.)Violent felonies, Crimes against Children
Child CareDisqualifying Crimes47
Corporate/ FinanceMost financial crimes such as fraud or embezzlement
Law EnforcementVaries, but any kind of felony conviction is usually a disqualifier
MedicalVaries, violent crime, neglect, medical fraud, and abuse are all common disqualifiers.

Applying for a job is always a mentally taxing experience and things like background checks only add to the pressure. Luckily, being prepared for a background check is very easy and doing something as simple as learning the local laws can help individuals be prepared for a background check before offer, or anything else that is unexpected.

Frequently Asked Questions About Background Check Before Offer

Can You Run a Background Check Before an Offer Is Made? (Pre Offer Background Check)

Some companies will run a background check before a formal offer is made. In most cases, a company will make a conditional offer of employment before conducting a background check.

Is It Legal To Do a Background Check Before Offer of Employment?

The legality of a background check before an offer will depend on state law. Many states will require a conditional offer of employment to be made before the background check is performed.

Does Background Check Happen Before or After Job Offer?

Background checks are usually after a conditional offer of employment is made but not always. Not all states require offers to be made before a background check is performed.

Is It Normal To Do a Background Check Before Offer?

Yes, these days the practice of making an employment offer before a background check is quite common.

Can a Job Offer Be Rescinded After Background Check?

Yes, if an individual fails a background check by having a disqualifier show up on the criminal history check or something similar, the offer will be rescinded.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Job Offer After Background Check?

Most companies will complete the hiring process as soon as the background check is passed. How long it takes for the background check will be completed depends on a number of factors but usually takes less than a week.

If A Company Does a Background Check Are You Hired?

If a company performs a background check it does not necessarily mean the individual will be hired. There is the possibility of the individual failing the background check and the company choosing to not move forward in the hiring process. In general, however, most companies will not bother performing a background check on an employee that they are not interested in hiring.

Does Intel Background Check Before Offer?

Many major companies will choose to perform a background check before making an offer. However, this practice is becoming less common as more and more states pass laws prohibiting background checks from being performed before a conditional offer of employment is given to the applicant.

What States Prohibit Pre-Offer Background Checks?

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin all have laws that prohibit pre-offer background checks in certain cities or the whole state.

What If I’m Nervous About Background Check?

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin all have laws that prohibit pre-offer background checks in certain cities or the whole state.

What If I’m Nervous About Background Check?

Individuals who are nervous about a background check should perform a background check on themselves using the DIY method or a reputable background check agency. This will allow the individual to fix any mistakes and be prepared for questions about their criminal history.

What's the Difference Between Background Check Before or After Offer?

When a background check is run after an offer, this usually reflects the state laws concerning previous convictions and employment. The same is true for when a background check is run before a job offer.


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